When my roommate got engaged last April, she bought a wedding planning notebook that included places to write in all your information, questions to ask your photographer and videographer, a vendor contact list, and more.

I considered for a couple days purchasing one of these, but because I am trying to save money in every area possible and lessen stress on myself, I decided to make my own. I also did this because I didn’t want more information than I needed. Looking through my roommate’s book earlier this year, there were so many things that seemed unnecessary, at least for what I wanted.

I also am opting not to buy a book about weddings. The Internet puts everything at one’s fingertips, so unless I end up feeling like there is something I can’t find online, I’m hoping not to spend any money on a book. One of my friends did offer to let me borrow one she used, so hopefully that will be enough.

Getting started
I bought a binder at Wal-mart for about $5. I could have bought a  white one for less, but they had a really cute pink one with white flowers on it, and it made me really excited, so I thought it was worth it. I also purchased one set that included four dividers and one pocket divider that matched the binder for about $2.

I wrote these labels on the dividers: Ceremony, Reception, Guest List and Post-wedding (anything related to our gift registry, housing, marriage licenses, changing my name, etc.). I think that everything I run into will be able to fit into one of these categories.

Building your own plan
If you’re having a truly unique wedding like a good friend, who had her mom as her bridesmaid and the reception and ceremony in the same room, then you may want to just write up a simple plan for yourself. I want to have a simple wedding, but I needed some help knowing what to do first. I did a Google search for wedding planning guides and ran across a plethora of seemingly helpful resources. Some were actually as helpful as they appeared to be, like the weddings guide from Real Simple. I started with their printable checklists and picked out the ones that seemed most applicable to what I needed:

You can also print out a master to-do list that includes all of the above and a few other worksheets on their wedding pullout guide.

Customize your plan
The first thing I did after printing out the planning calendar was to cross off the things that weren’t applicable. For example, I’m not hiring a wedding planner. I’m also not having an engagement party or hiring a live band or deejay. We’re not having alcohol and there will be no assigned seating – more things to cross off the list. When I was finished, I had a checklist of everything I absolutely need to do. A wedding planning guide made simple.

Other things to include
Both the church where we’ll be getting married and the church at which we’ll have our reception have policies that I printed out and included in the appropriate part of the notebook. I might need these later in order to refer to, so I wanted to have them in an easy-to-find place.

If you went to the Real Simple weddings guide, you may have seen numerous other worksheets you could print out. Some were about stocking liquor; others included questions to ask your vendors. I will be printing these out eventually, but because we’re still in the very beginning stages, I only want the things I absolutely need in my notebook.

It may also be helpful to have page protectors or dividers with pockets. You can use those to keep a copy of your wedding invitation, a draft of the program, cloth samples and other non-hole-punchable items in your notebook.

Did you use or are you using a wedding planning notebook? Is there anything else that I should have included?